My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

My Week…Surrounded

The My Week series of posts is a daily running journal that I do on the walks that I take daily around the apartment complex where I live. I’m located just south of the second largest city in Michigan, Grand Rapids, in the southwest part of the state. It was inspired in part by the phenology project done by Rebecca on her blog, Rebecca in the Woods.

Here you will find my thoughts about the wildlife that share this area, and maybe my thoughts on a news item I have read that pertains to nature or the environment.

This post covers the week from April 8 to April 14, 2012

Sunday

The drought has ended, I knew throwing potato chip crumbs out on the balcony would do the trick and bring the rain we so badly needed! The rain began some time overnight, and continues on and off even as I type this at 10 A.M. When I first looked out the window, all I could see is that it had rained, as there were still raindrops streaking down the window, but when I looked again, I could see that the amount of greenery outside had nearly doubled from yesterday. That’s something that always amazes me, how quickly plants grow, especially after a rain. There have been times during spring rains when it seems that I could see leaves growing as I would survey the woods around me.

The rain is supposed to end soon, and the day become quite warm, how warm, no one is saying. You have to love it when the local meteorologists admit they aren’t sure exactly how warm it will get that day!

I think that a trip to Aman Park is in order today, to catch the wildflowers in bloom, hopefully. The forecast for next weekend is looking good, cool and sunny, so if that holds true, I will be headed for a day of kayaking in Ludington State Park. I’ll do the canoe trail and then make my way around the islands and bays to the north of the trail, as I really loved that area when I hiked it last fall. Right now, it’s time for breakfast and cooking for the week, be back later.

I’m back, and Aman Park was in full display today, the numbers of wildflowers has to be seen to be believed. I will do a separate post about my hike there, since it doesn’t really fit here. I will say this though, I loved being out and seeing all the wildflowers, however, I still was lacking motivation to photograph them for some reason. I’ll never get bored with flowers, but maybe I am bored with shooting them.

Monday

We received quite a bit of rain overnight, although by the looks of the creek behind my apartment, we could certainly use some more rain. I’ll know more about that once I have done my walk for the day.

One of the maples behind my apartment looks like it will fall over some time today, the winds are out of the west and gusting to around 40 M.P.H., and the tree is at more of an angle than I remember it being before. Luckily, if it falls, it will be across the creek and not into the building I live in. That will give the turkeys and squirrels another path across the creek. 🙂

All that wind is blowing in cooler air, after a high in the mid-seventies yesterday, the temperature is forecast to fall slowly all day long. So, it’s time to get out there and check it out for myself.

I’ve been out in some gales before, and this one is a good one! There were several times when the wind was strong enough to make walking difficult. Needless to say, I didn’t take many photos. Most of the wildlife was either laying low or being blown around so much by the wind that photography was close to impossible. When I did try shooting something, the wind make it hard for me to hold still. I did manage a few though.

Turkey chasing a mourning dove

Turkey chasing a mourning dove

And here’s another one of the reasons I love this place.

Turkey feeding while a squirrels scampers

That pattern continued at my next “stop”. I saw a white cup-shaped flower on a tree that I don’t ever recall having seen before.

Small white cup-shaped flower on a tree

As I was adjusting the settings on my camera to get that shot, I looked down to see this butterfly sunning itself.

Butterfly

And there was more of the same pattern back at the long back pond. I stopped to see if Mother Goose was on the nest, she was, but then this coot appeared out of the brush surrounding the pond.

American coot

The bad thing about the wind is that it is shredding the flowers from round two of the flowering trees, just as the flowers were beginning to open, sigh. Round two would have been the deep red flowers for the most part, with a few pink and white ones also, but there will be little left to photograph after this wind storm.

The temperature is falling, partly from cold air being blown in, and partly because the lake effect clouds are thickening up as the day goes on. I did see a tree limb come crashing down into the swamp with a big splash, but I was too slow on the draw to catch it falling.

The creeks and ponds are full again, that was good to see! There is more rain forecast for later this week, I hope that the forecast is correct for a change. That goes for the weekend as well, it is still looking good for a kayaking trip in Ludington State Park!

In the odd news of the day department, we have this, a tree eating a pine cone.

The rare pine cone eating tree

I stood there looking at this for several minutes, wondering how the pine cone got where it was, and why some one would put it there, if that was what had happened. Then, a stronger gust of wind came along, and explained everything to me.

During the strongest gusts of wind, the split in the tree would open up quite a bit more, and the cone must have fallen into the split during one of those times, higher up where the split was wider. Then, when the wind died down between gusts, the split would close back up, crushing the cone a little more with each cycle of gust and calm, with the cone moving down a little more each time as well.

I stood there and watched several cycles, a gust would come up, the split would open up more, the cone would drop a fraction of an inch, then the wind would die down, the tree would spring back crushing the cone a little more, it looked for all the world like the tree was eating the cone. Because the fibers of the cone were being crushed unevenly during the gust/calm cycles, the part of it not trapped in the split twisted and moved as if it were writhing in pain.

One of those odd moments in nature. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I should have removed the pine cone from the split, it is now acting as a wedge to split the tree further every time we have gusty winds. Oh well, the tree is doomed anyway, that split is way too large and close to the ground for the tree to survive as it is.

That’s all I have time for today.

Tuesday

The wind has subsided, thankfully. Blue skies have returned, and I am ready to go, so I’m going!

Wow! What a day. I am going to start with the good news, even though it happened at the end of my walk. I saw the injured fox squirrel today, at first, it didn’t look good. He was walking all hunched up, that’s never a good sign with animals. However, I watched him from a distance, and he seems to be healing up! The last time that I saw him, I thought that he had gone blind from the swelling around his eyes, but he was doing much better today. He was feeding on fallen maple leaves mostly, not moving well, but doing OK. I didn’t want to make his life any more difficult than it is already, so I didn’t try to get close to him. I did view him with the zoom lens of my camera, and most of the swelling to his face and neck, and in particular his eyes, has gone way down. For the first time since I saw that he was injured, I got the feeling that he is going to pull through!

OK, now, back to the start. A beautiful, although chilly start to my walk, I even considered stepping back inside and putting on something warmer, but I knew with the sunshine, it would warm up quickly enough, and it did.

I started by checking the new swamp for wood ducks, I heard them in the distance, but couldn’t see them. That’s OK, as long as they are sticking around. I did see and photograph the pair of gadwall ducks, but the photos aren’t the greatest, so I ‘ll try for some better ones. They may appear to be a dull brown, but at least the male has some interesting patterns to his plumage, the female may well have also, but she hangs back and I can’t get even a good photo of her to be able to tell.

While there, I shot this photo of a pretty yellow flower, but I don’t know what it is. It is from a low, bushy plant growing on the edge of the swamp.

Kerria Japonica

An update, thanks to Allen Norcross of the New Hampshire Gardening Solutions blog for identifying this flower for me. His blog is an excellent one, you should check it out!

Then, there was this goldfinch in a red maple tree.

American goldfinch

It’s not the best shot of the goldfinch, but I like the colors, although it didn’t come out as well as I had hoped. The dogwood and lilacs are still blooming.

Dogwood and lilacs

Boy, are they ever!

lilacs

Dogwood and lilacs

While I was there shooting the flowers, this robin stopped by to pose in the dogwood!

American robin singing from a dogwood tree

Now, if that shot doesn’t shout spring, I don’t know what would! Also while I was there, this chipping sparrow stopped by as well.

Chipping sparrow

I was hoping he would sing too, and he did, but not before he had moved to in front of a cloud.

Chipping sparrow singing

At the back pond, the kingfishers were both perched, I took some very bad photos of them I won’t bother to post, I actually got better shots of them flying.

Belted kingfishers in flight

Belted kingfishers in flight

Belted kingfisher in flight

I went all the way around the pond, hoping that they would return, or that I would be able to get close to the killdeer there, no luck on those counts. There were also several swallows flying around and over the pond, of course I tried for shots of them, no luck, they dart and change direction too quickly for me to keep up with them. I did just about get a good shot, but just as the auto-focus locked and I was about to shoot, a robin flew through the frame and caused the auto-focus to recycle. Isn’t that the way it goes sometimes?

I took a few more shots of the balsam fir cones since I received so many comments about them.

Balsam fir cone

Balsam fir cones

The wind yesterday knocked down quite a few branches, limbs, and even blew over a couple of trees in the wetter areas, but not the maple tree behind my apartment that I thought might go. It’s still standing, albeit at quite an angle.

A few of the flowers on the flowering trees managed to hang on during the wind.

Flowering crab

Flowering crab

Most of the flowers on the trees were shredded by the wind yesterday, it makes the ground look pretty underneath the trees with all the flower petals covering the ground, but they would have looked even better on the trees.

I’m going to end this one here, I want to save some time for myself, I have a complaint letter to write. The stupid manager here has the groundskeepers whacking down the brush so it can be turned into more lawn to be mowed and maintained. If that happens, the food, shelter, and habitat for some of the wildlife is going to be gone, and the wildlife with it. So, I am hoping a complaint letter to corporate put an end to that, we’ll see.

On to Wednesday.

Wednesday

I overslept this morning, so I am running way behind, as if I needed that. The weather outside looks pleasant, I know that it got quite cold overnight from the frost on the vehicles and mist rising from the ponds when I came home from work last night.

I am still planning on kayaking Ludington State Park this weekend, probably Sunday, as they are now predicting rain for Saturday.

I have also gotten both of my tax refunds, so I have some shopping to do one of these days, no hurry on that though. It will be good to have some new footwear for both work and play.

Since it is late already, I had better get moving, be back later.

Well, it was one of those days. It started when I was lacing up my shoes on the landing outside my apartment. Like most mornings lately, I could hear the phoebe in the woods across from me, very close to the edge of the woods. By the time I made it down the stairs, it was well back in the woods, and I have no idea how it knows that I am coming. That goes along with something else I have noticed, critters know what the beep of a camera obtaining a focus lock is. I can’t count the number of times I have had my camera on something, waiting for the auto-focus to do its thing, and as soon as the camera beeps at me to tell me to shoot, the critter is gone.

The phoebe goes out of its way to torment me. When I get close to the woods, no matter how far away from where the phoebe is singing, it stops singing. I’ll do my loop around the dead-end street I live on, then head south on the main street that also runs next to the woods. It’s about that time that the phoebe begins singing again, and even follows behind me as I go, but making sure that it stays well hidden back in the woods as it does so.

The other thing wildlife does to frustrate me is to gang up on me. Today, back on the edge of the new swamp, I shot one photo that has six species of wildlife in the frame at one time. Of course you need a magnifying glass to pick them out, so I’m not going to post it, but there were a pair of mallards swimming in the swamp, a blue jay getting a drink, a robin looking for a meal, a fox squirrel doing the same, a red winged blackbird singing from a bush on the back edge of the swamp, and what I think was a song sparrow also looking for food. Of course the mallards posed for me, I’m not going to bother with that one. I did get a photo of the blue jay.

Blue jay

Everything else got away. I moved slightly trying to get a clearer shot of the blue jay, and all of them except the mallards decided that it was a good time to go elsewhere. Oh, and that was all after having spooked off the wood ducks. I swear, they do nothing but sit there on the look out for me and stay just out of camera range, or behind vegetation. Wild wood ducks have to be the hardest critters to get close to that I have ever tried to photograph, bar none. They make the average whitetail deer look tame in comparison.

My bad action shot of the day is really bad.

Robin aerobatics

I have some better shots of the two of them going at it, some of them are even in focus, but that one is the one that shows just how good of fliers robins are.

Then there was the weather today, it was sunny to begin with as you may have been able to tell from the photo of the blue jay. That lasted only a short time, until about the time the phoebe began singing again to torment me. By then, the clouds were rolling in, it cooled off, and we even got a few light sprinkles of rain, enough for me to tuck the camera into my jacket to keep it dry. The clouds lasted until I was almost finished with my walk, now it’s a nice sunny day out there again.

The last photo of the day is of a female red winged blackbird taken at the front pond.

Female red winged blackbird

I have been trying to get a good photo of the female of the species without much success until today, that one will do.

I also saw a great blue heron fly over, very close to me, but with the clouds and sprinkles, no photos of it, the sharp shined hawk, the red-tailed hawk, or the gadwall ducks that I was close to at different times during my walk. The gadwalls are increasing in number, there has been just a pair of them around here, today, there was a small flock of six to eight.

That’s all I have time for today, on to Thursday.

Thursday

It is shaping up to be a repeat of yesterday, I slept in later than is my usual, and as I have been drinking my coffee this morning, the clouds have been thickening up. A quick check of the local weather shows a few showers moving towards the area, so I had better get moving!

I didn’t have the time to add a single word to this after my walk, but before work today. The sunny day only lasted a few minutes of my walk, then a light rain began to fall. As is often the case, a very light, warm rain seems to make wildlife more active, I think that birds love a little rain. They put on a few shows for me, the photos I took aren’t top-notch because of the lower light during the rain, but I think you will find them interesting enough to make up for the lack of quality.

I should start at the beginning, when I first stepped outside, for that’s part of the story from today. I always step off the stoop and pause, checking the weather, the number of birds singing when it’s that time of year, and getting a feel for the day. I don’t have a set routine for which direction I walk each day, sometimes clockwise, sometimes counter-clockwise, I go with my gut feeling for the day, and today, my gut told me to go clockwise, so I did.

The chances for good photos started right off the bat, as they often do, but I was a little slow on this one.

Female northern cardinal hiding her face behind a leaf

Just a short time later, I saw two turkeys coming my way, so I hid behind a convenient building waiting for them to get closer. The first turkey had just cleared the building when it stretched out its neck and let go of a gobble.

A turkey gobbling

The second turkey joined the first, and they did a double gobble.

Two turkeys gobbling at the same time

Wow, that was kind of cool, but I wasn’t ready for it. So, I stood there with the camera on the two turkeys waiting for them to both gobble at the same time again, and they would not do it, until my arms grew tired and I lowered the camera. At that instant, they both gobbled at the same time again. That game repeated itself several times, as long as I had the camera on the turkeys, they gave me the look….

Two turkeys giving me the look

…and as soon as I lowered the camera, they would both gobble at the same time again.

The light was fading as the clouds thickened, and I didn’t have the time to stand there and keep the turkeys amused by letting them torment me any longer.

I walked along the creek that runs across the front of the apartment complex, and heard a red bellied woodpecker in one of the few trees along the creek. I looked high and low for it, but never saw the one calling, but its mate soon joined it in that tree.

Red bellied woodpecker

I would have liked to have gotten a shot of the two of them together, but I didn’t see both of them at the same time until they were in the top of the tree too far away for a good photo.

Then, things got really interesting, as I approached the front pond. The pair of Canada geese that have claimed that pond as theirs were bathing and preening, not that unusual, but this time, it seemed different.

Canada geese bathing as a pie-billed grebe looks on

For one thing, there was a very little pie-billed grebe watching the geese intently, circling the geese as they went about their bathing.

Pie-billed grebe watching Canada geese

I have many photos of geese, but I don’t have a good one of a grebe, so I thought that this may be my chance to get one, so I stuck around, working my way closer to the birds. If the grebe hadn’t been there, I would have shot one or two bad photos of the water running off the geese’s backs as they bathed, like this one, and then been on my way.

Water running off from a goose's back

Then I noticed that this wasn’t just the typical geese being geese bathing and preening, they were getting romantic.

Canada goose mating rituals

Yup, you guessed it, goose porn!

Canada geese mating

Then, the celebration began!

Canada geese celebrating after mating

Canada geese celebrating after mating

And, the little grebe was still watching, just as intently as I was.

Pie-billed grebe watching a Canada goose celebrate after mating

Pie-billed grebe watching a Canada goose celebrate after mating

The gander sure was proud of himself!

Canada goose celebrate after mating

Canada goose celebrate after mating

Canada goose celebrate after mating

After the celebration was over, the geese retired to the edge of the pond to lounge, followed by the grebe.

Canada goose and pie-billed grebe

The gander let the grebe know just how close it was allowed to come.

Canada goose and pie-billed grebe

But, the grebe was determined to stick around anyway.

Canada goose and pie-billed grebe

As the geese continued to preen, the grebe got as close to them as they would allow, and began preening as well.

Canada goose and pie-billed grebe

Canada goose and pie-billed grebe

Canada goose and pie-billed grebe

What was that grebe up to?

Canada goose and pie-billed grebe

About that time, one of the male mallards that hang out in the front pond was feeling jealous because I hadn’t taken any photos of him yet today, so he swam over to insert himself into the story.

Male mallard

And, to make sure that he got his picture taken, took flight from right in front of the goose and grebe.

Male mallard taking flight

I wonder if that’s the same mallard that flew so close to my head that I could feel the air from his wings just a few days ago? That one landed in the front creek less than twenty feet from me, demanding I photograph him, which I did of course. There are a couple of the mallards around here that are complete hams for a camera, but that isn’t the story of the day, so I’ll save that one for a later time. Back to the grebe and the geese.

Canada goose and pie-billed grebe

Just what was the grebe up to? Did it think that it was going to mate with a goose, or was it just lonely and wanting to hang out with other birds? It sure stuck close to the geese until they walked up into the grass to lay down for a nap. Then the grebe swam around the pond by itself, and I left at that time. I am no expert on grebes and their behavior, I know that mallards like to hang out in flocks, maybe grebes do as well. Of course I have no way of knowing what was going through the mind of the grebe, but how close it stuck to the geese was interesting to say the least.

The male goldfinches have almost completely molted to their summer color.

Male American goldfinch

The male northern cardinals are still singing.

Male northern cardinal singing

Some of the flowering trees managed to hold on to their flowers during the windstorm the other day.

The scene around the pool on a wet spring day

The pair of geese in the center pond were enjoying the warm spring rain.

Canada geese in the rain

Then, for some reason, I can’t say why, I approached the long back pond by a route that I seldom use. For one thing, I have to pass very close to people’s apartments, and I try to give every one as much privacy as I would like to have, and the second reason is that on a sunny day, any shots I would take from there would be into the sun.

As I got near the pond, I could see a lone goose flying straight towards me as if it were going to land on the pond right in front of me. That would have made for some great photos, but I was looking through the branches of a weeping willow. I got the camera out of my jacket where it had been protected from the rain and prepared to photograph the goose as it landed, but it pulled up and banked to its left just as I was getting ready.

Canada goose in flight

It set its wings as if to land in the grass….

Canada goose about to land

…and did touchdown in a way…

Canada goose landing

…but it never really stopped…

Canada goose half running, half flying

…which I thought was unusual, so I kept shooting…

Canada goose about to be attacked

…and the reason the goose never stopped became very clear, for Father Goose came swooping in obviously intent on inflicting great mayhem upon the intruder to his territory…

Canada goose dogfight

…the intruder tried to escape the wrath of Father Goose by pulling up sharply, but in an amazing display of flying ability, Father Goose pulled up and cut inside the intruder’s planned escape route to deliver a vicious bite to the soft underside of the intruder…

Canada goose dogfight

…that move by Father Goose robbed him of the airspeed he needed to continue the fight and it gave the intruder a chance to escape…

Canada goose dogfight

…the intruder seized the opportunity, and dove to press his advantage in speed…

Canada goose in flight

…and Father Goose landed while continuing to let the intruder know that he had gotten off easy this time and that he had better never return again…

Father Goose proclaiming his territory

I walked around to the other end of the pond to check on how Mother Goose was doing, she’s still on the nest, how boring it must be to sit there 24/7 for a month in all weather extremes, waiting for the eggs to hatch. But, that’s a bird’s like. By that time Father Goose had taken up his usual position for guarding Mother Goose and the nest, and as soon as he saw me, he began swimming in my direction lest I get too close to his mate and her nest. I thought about how I would like to be able to let him know that if anything threatened her or the nest, that I would be joining him in protecting them, but that isn’t possible.

I also thought that if I were of a different nature, and wanted spectacular action shots of a goose, all I would have to do is wait until the light was just right, and then advance on the nest until he came after me. But, that isn’t my style. I stopped following a few blogs because of the way the authors went about getting good shots of wildlife, like releasing mice to attract owls up close, and things like that. I know, owls kill mice on a daily basis, or close to it, but I’m not going to turn loose tame mice that have no idea what’s in store for them out into the wild just to get a photo, no matter how spectacular the photo would be.

I’m not going to claim that my photos are all that great, I know better than that, but I think I do OK with the way that I go about getting the photos I do.  I don’t stake out the nests of birds, don’t bait animals, and try not to disturb any wildlife more than I absolutely have to.  OK, so I do check out Mother Goose nearly everyday, but I stick my head up above the berm just enough to see if she’s there or not, then leave. If she hadn’t nested where she had, I would actually walk farther in her direction than what I do, and spend more time there because I have a good view of the pond from that point. In a way, she’s cutting into the photos I could be getting if she hadn’t nested where she did.

I would like to think that nature rewards me for being the way that I am. People often remark about the shots that I do get, that they had never seen those things before as far as animal behavior. Some of that comes from how much time I spend outdoors, but as far as my being in the right place at the right time so often, I can’t explain that other than nature’s karma coming back in a good way.

That goes back to the beginning of today’s entry, going with my gut feeling as to which direction to go, which path to take when, and those types of things. If I had gone the other way around today and not walked a path that I normally don’t, I may have missed the two turkeys gobbling at the exact same time, the geese mating, the grebe watching them, and Father Goose warding off another gander. Is that all just pure dumb luck? I’d like to think that it wasn’t, but who knows for sure.

Anyway, I shot a few more photos later on, nothing worth posting except for these flowers which I haven’t had time to look up yet.

Purple wildflower

I was actually looking at a squirrel I saw sitting in a tree, trying to see if it was the injured fox squirrel or a different one, when I saw these flowers below the squirrel.

Purple wildflower

When I looked back up for the squirrel, it was gone.

That’s it for today, on to Friday.

Friday

Yesterday’s warm soft rain has given way to a cold hard rain, at least to start. When I first stepped outside, I had to listen for a few moments to detect the sound of a bird singing, that changed later during the day. I took very few photos, and I haven’t even downloaded them from the camera as of yet, they are mostly water drops on vegetation shots for the most part. I may add one or two here tonight when I get home from work, it depends on how they came out.

During my walk, the rain let up, and that gave way to a cold mist and light fog, so the camera stayed tucked inside my parka most of the time. What a difference, yesterday, it was so warm that a number of times I stepped under a car port when I was near one so I could unzip my light jacket to cool off, while still keeping my camera dry. Today, I wore my parka, and had no urge to unzip it.

Oh, one thing I forgot from yesterday, all the singing the phoebe has been doing has paid off! No, sorry, no phoebe porn, I was too slow, and they were too far away, but Mr. Phoebe has certainly attracted a Mrs. Phoebe!

What reminded me of that was how I was going to comment on how active the birds became today once the rain had let up. There was no need to listen hard to hear a bird’s song after that. At one point during the day, I thought that it would be a nice challenge to see how many photos I could get of robins with beaks full of grass and mud to build nests with, but the number would be so large that I would bore all of you with them anyway.

I watched the gold-crowned kinglet for a while, it seems to have taken up residence along the main creek through here, and as always, it was too quick, and in brush too thick for any kind of photo.

I know that this isn’t much for today, I spent so much time on yesterday’s entry that I am behind again. On to Saturday.

Saturday

Bright blue skies, and chilly! I had my doubts about this morning while I was coming home from work last night, it was still foggy then, but it has cleared up nicely. I haven’t decided if I am going to do one or two laps today, I have to prepare for the kayaking trip tomorrow, making sure that I have everything packed and picking up my boat from the storage unit I rent. One way or another, I had best get moving, as it is getting late. I woke up when I wanted to this morning, but my body and my brain had a debate as to whether I should get out of bed or not, and my body won, so I went back to sleep for an hour or so.

After completing my walk for the day, I am rethinking going kayaking tomorrow, it was a bit on the cool side, and Ludington will be even cooler yet since it is so much farther north, and on Lake Michigan. If I’m going to drive that far, I want it to be as close to perfect as I can get. Besides, there is more wildlife here at my apartment complex than I can handle anyway. I took 277 photos today, a lot of them bad, some are for the weekly challenge, and there will be at least a few posted here. Not only did I have to sort through all of them, I had to do some bird identification to make sure I saw what I thought I saw. Yup, one of those kinds of days. Oh, and I only did one lap, plus hung out in the new swamp for a while.

The day started out like any other day, a so-so shot of a goldfinch..

American goldfinch

…then played peek-a-boo with another one, and lost.

America goldfinch hiding

One of the red-tailed hawks flew over to give me my bad action shot of the day.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

The cute little pie-billed grebe was in the front pond, and I got a couple of good photos of him.

Pie-billed grebe

Pie-billed grebe

He is just so cute! And speaking of cute, the last couple days of rain must have been good duck weather, because suddenly, there are broods of ducklings following the female mallards all over the place.

Mama duck and her ducklings

I wanted a better shot of the ducklings, but mom was obviously upset with my being so close so I left after that one shot.

Mama duck and her ducklings number two

This mother should be a little more careful with her brood, because this was circling overhead.

Coopers hawk in flight

I felt bad after taking the next shot. I was standing on one of the bridges over the main creek, looking downstream, when I heard a quack echo from under the other side of the bridge, so I walked over and waited, and scared the crap out of this new mother as she led her ducklings out.

Mama duck and her ducklings number three

She began to take flight instinctively, then remembered her new brood, and landed before she really got off the water. I had no idea that it was going to be a female and her brood, and once the action started I shot from force of habit, I will be more careful now that I know that there are ducklings all over the place, no more playing games with the mallards until their young have been raised.

It hadn’t warmed up as much as I had expected it to, it was still quite cool, and a bit on the breezy side, but what a day, and it wasn’t even finished yet. Sunshine, and fresh air lightly scented with pine, honeysuckle, and lilacs, you couldn’t ask for anything better!

As I approached the new swamp, I thought that since I hadn’t been back in there for a few days, today would be a good day to follow the deer trail back in as far as I could go. I spent a long time back there, taking some not too good photos of hundreds or yellow-rumped warblers.

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

The warblers were everywhere, so many of them that I had a very difficult time trying to track one to get a shot of it, they were literally everywhere back in the woods. As a matter of fact, there were too many birds all together, for there were also robins, grackles, red-winged blackbirds, blue jays, chickadees, and that’s just a few of the small birds I saw, then there were the waterfowl. The warblers were hard to photograph because they never stop moving very long, they only paused until they heard the beep from my camera as it focused on them, then they flew off to their next stop before I could finish pressing the shutter. The ducks were like ghosts moving between the trees, which left me very little time to find an opening to shoot through, without making so much noise that I would have spooked them.

Wood duck

Wood duck

Canada goose

Male blue-winged teal

Male blue-winged teal

Assorted female ducks

First-year male hooded merganser

Canada geese

On top of all those, there were mallards swimming, flying, resting, and doing all the typical mallard stuff all around me, one of the red-tailed hawks flew over, and there were other birds or their shadows all around me all the time. Oh, and how could I forget the kingfishers, either flying over or perched in one of the trees. I was going crazy back there today, I couldn’t pick one target and stay with it, too many other things were distracting me! I would be waiting for one of the ducks to swim through an opening, and a warbler would land nearby. I’d try for a shot of it, then the shadow of a bird would pass over me. I’d try to ID it, and a duck would show itself for a second or two, what a terrible problem to have!

While I was back there, I got a better shot of one of the phoebe.

Eastern phoebe

And, here’s what the new swamp looks like in the largest clearing in it I have found so far.

The new swamp in my apartment complex

Looks like a swamp, doesn’t it?

I hate to end on that note, but this is already much longer than I would have liked. As always, thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again next week!

11 responses

  1. LindaSCgal

    Very cool! Loved the Canadian Goose story and the American Goldfinch pictures. You do it all so well!

    April 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    • Thank you very much, and thank you for leaving a comment!

      April 21, 2012 at 10:43 pm

  2. Loved the story about the turkeys taunting you! I could visualize it perfectly. You lost me with your rain ritual though 🙂

    April 22, 2012 at 12:10 am

    • Thank you Laura! The rain ritual, I throw the crumbs from the end of a bag of potato chips or any stale bread that I have left over out onto the balcony of my apartment. It rains, turning the chips or bread into a wet mush, which we humans wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. The critters don’t seem to mind, in fact, they seem to prefer eating the mush over the same thing dry.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:48 am

  3. You had a great week and we all benefit from it! Thank you.
    I think your unknown yellow wildflower might be a Kerria Japonica if it was growing on a shrub. The leaves and flower both look like Kerria. It’s also called Japanese rose because it’s in the rose family and was discovered in Japan. It’s a beautiful plant that just started blooming in my back yard.
    I’m glad to hear that the injured squirrel is getting better. Did you ever figure out how he got mauled? Hawk? Cat?

    April 22, 2012 at 8:14 am

    • Thank you, and thank you for identifying the plant in question! I thought that it looked like it could have been a cultivated plant that “escaped”, but wasn’t certain.

      I’m not sure how the squirrel was injured, I doubt if it was by a hawk, because of the nature of the squirrels injuries. My best guess would be either it was hit by a car or tangled with the feral cat that lives here. There used to be close to a half-dozen feral cats here, but they set traps last summer and got all but one.

      April 22, 2012 at 11:03 am

  4. Northern Narratives

    Lovely photos. I can’t wait until my lilacs flower. That will probably be 2-3 week for us 🙂

    April 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    • Thank you! You may be lucky that it will be that long before your lilacs bloom, the ones around here were damaged by the frosts that we’ve had.

      April 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

  5. Great pictures! I liked how the Grebe was hanging out with the Canada Goose. And Ohio is flooded with Yellow-Rumped warblers too! The flower at the end of Thursday’s post looks to me to be Wild Geranium…keep the pictures coming!

    April 26, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    • Thanks for the comment and for identifying the flower!

      April 28, 2012 at 11:12 am

  6. Another great week of captures! So many to speak about, I loved the kingfishers in flight and the reflecting bluejay shot is gorgeous. The Canada geese mating was great and it was so cool to get to capture the little grebe hanging around them. Of course, I laughed with your turkeys ‘double-gobble’ and ‘the look’ shots as well as seeing my first rare pine cone eating tree ever!

    April 30, 2012 at 11:30 am